Oh Deer!

Deer (42 of 32)

When we first bought our new home in Colorado, I was so excited about all the wild life that our neighbors talked about.  Of course they were a little less than excited about some of the animals that visit our home.  Particularly, the Mule Deer (a little larger than white tail), that often rub their antlers on the budding trees.  But supposedly, we have a moose cow, a bear, and the deer.

Deer (42 of 2)

Last week, I got my 30-something-th chemotherapy infusion, and I was dragging after getting a wonderful injection of neulesta.  I laid down to take a nap, but Thor, my Golden Retriever, decided to bark and bark and bark.  I was irritated, so I yelled at him to STFU.  Yeah, I know my language isn’t the best when I feel like I do post-chemo.

Deer (45 of 32)

My daughter said, “Mom, get your camera, there are deer looking in the window.”  Deer looking in the window?!  Why would deer want to look in the window. Sure enough, I looked out my window, and saw the two doe above eating grass in our neighbor’s yard.  I snuck outside, and captured these photos of the beautiful buck that accompanied three doe.

Deer (49 of 32)

I’m 90% sure this is lovely 10-point buck that ruined one of our brand new pine trees that we planted earlier this year.  But who knows.  He sure liked to pose.  I got about 2-3 yards away from the herd before he pushed the doe away, and took off across the street.  I did manage to get a few more pictures.

I took a total of 30 pictures…

Some prints are available for sale, and I am making a new 2018 calendar.  My photographs are available for sale at Jodi Vetter Photography, the calendar, and other products will be soon available on a new Etsy Storefront.  A percentage of all sales goes towards Camp Mak-A-Dream outside of Missoula, MT.

I’m Still Here…

Hike 2 (54 of 93)

Hello friends, it’s been awhile.  A lot has happened, and I have been busy, but I have not forgotten you.  Where to begin…  I finished up Doxil chemotherapy in May.  I was stable, some of the tumors were even starting to shrink.  But the doctor wanted to save my last eight infusions for another time.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, and we are not quite at desperate measures.

In June, we moved.  We left Florida forever (I will visit, but I will never live there again).  I was regaining my health, and I found my new sanctuary in Colorado.  Florida was beautiful in a tropical way.  There were tropical smelling flowers, calming beaches, and thick forests.  Colorado is beautiful in a mountainous, rugged way.  There is wild life walking through our yard, song birds of every variety, and hummingbirds galore.

Edited Hummingbird (35 of 1)

We got settled and used to our new surroundings.  I sat out in the cool evenings and watched the sunsets.  In the mornings, I drank coffee and watched the sunrises.  Then things started to brew.  A few months into moving, I had my first bout of illness.  Easily explained– it was the coffee.  I was not used to drinking coffee, and coffee used to make me sick.  I had a biopsy, too.

Hummingbirds and Rainbows (90 of 65)

In July and August the storms started.  The illness struck again, but this time it was Kale.  I was trying to change my diet, and it had to be kale.  It was too rough on my digestive track.  The numbers on the scale were starting to creep up, despite me being a little more active.  I decided I was going to hike the Bar Trail next year (13 miles walk, 7000 foot elevation gain).  I had started to even run.  I was accepted into Camp Mak-A-Dream.

Hummingbirds and Rainbows (94 of 65)

Then in August, the poo hit the fan.  The first week, I was sick, then I had a week where I felt a little better, then the next week I was sick.  I had an appointment with my doctor on the 21st.  The evening of the 20th, I got really, really bad.  I had lost control of my bowels, I lost control of my bladder.  My hands and feet contorted, and I could not move them.  I had soaked a shirt in sweat.  I stripped naked, and sat on the toilet for nearly three hours.  I alternated between vomiting and having diarrhea.  I didn’t know if I should go to the ER, or wait.  Finally, the Zofran, Imodium, and Tylenol took affect, and I was able to put on a Depends, and go to sleep.

Pikes Peak (10 of 229)

The next day it was confirmed.  My cancer was no longer stable.  It was growing, and producing fluid in my abdomen.  I had gained 20+ pounds over the summer.  I went from a size 10 to a size 14 by the time I saw the doctor.  The fluid is called Ascites (pronounced- A-CEE-TEES).  I was going back on chemo stat.  The new regimen– Gemzar, Cisplatin, and Avastin.  Three days after my first infusion, I checked my weight.  I was down over 15 pounds!

Pikes Peak (67 of 229)

The side effects weren’t bad.  They were there.  I got my second infusion on Labor Day.  Yes, the nurses in Colorado work on Labor Day.  Nurses are my heroes.  A few days after my second infusion, I left for Montana!  I was a little bit nervous.  There’s forest fires in the area, but I had fun.  I tried a lot of new things– horseback riding (I hadn’t been in over 20 years), archery, photography (next time I’m bringing my “nice” camera), writing, painting, and I could go on and on.  The biggest thing for me is I made life-long friends that I would never imagine I could make.  You see I have difficulty making friends.  But the women I met there “got it.”  The complaints I had about family and friends, who didn’t “get it” were the same.  They understood that since my surgery I tend to fart loudly, that there are certain things I don’t enjoy anymore, and understood the time I wrote ten checks, because I could NOT remember how to write a check (chemo brain is no joke).

 

After four glorious days of forgetting I had cancer, enjoying the company of my new sisters, and just an amazing time.  I came home.  On Tuesday (the 12th), I started to have cold symptoms.  It was just a cough.  On Wednesday, the cough turned into a deeper cough, fever, and dizziness.  I drove myself to University of Colorado Memorial North Hospital late Wednesday.  I was admitted into the cancer-ICU ward (it’s combined).  Several blood tests, infusions, oxygen, and fevers as high 103.6 later, I was diagnosed with influenza a.  I posted on the group Facebook page, and we discovered over 20 women had similar symptoms, six of us with the full blown flu.  I’m the only one still in the hospital.  My platelets are recovering, my white blood cell count just went up.  My bone marrow is non-existent.  I’m on anti-viral medication, anti-biotics (even though I don’t have a bacterial infection, they are keeping me on it because I have no immune system), and some other medications.  I am hoping to go home on Tuesday, but who knows.  My chemo on Monday is cancelled.

Pikes Peak (75 of 229)

The silver lining, because there is always a bright side, I get to catch up on my blog.  I have edited some photographs, read a novel, done word puzzles, watched football, binge watched USA Networks Movies, and decided that I am going to play with plastic pumpkins and glitter, paint a few of my sunset pictures, do a mountain mosaic, and brainstorm on how to open an online gallery called “Teal Expressions”.  There isn’t much sleep to be had in the hospital though.  But anyway, you’ll be seeing more of me later.

Pikes Peak (25 of 229)

Teal Expressions is an idea I have been playing with for a long time.  I would like to have an online storefront gallery with women, who are battling (or have battled) ovarian cancer.  It would be an opportunity for artists to earn money, raise money, and express their art.  You can submit anything from visual art (prints, wall art, postcards, greeting cards), wearable art (jewelry, scarves, blankets, shirts), or media art (self published, poetry, self-published prose, produced music).  If anyone is interested in assisting me on creating Teal Expressions, please comment below.  I am in the planning stages right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Open Letter…

Apparently I have a hater, who has gone from a few blogs I have guest-wrote, my own personal blog, comments on another article, my Caring Bridge, and a few other personal sites.  This person, for whatever reason, has decided I’m “faking cancer, am a troll, and have committed Stolen Valor.”  I spent my day e-mailing administrators at Caring Bridge, Go Fund Me, and various other sites to straighten out the accusations.  Instead of running away, and hiding, I would like to address these accusations head on.

This is not the first time someone has accused me of faking this illness.  The first accusation came a year ago, when I first started this lovely adventure.  It was from a running group I belonged to, so I’m not surprised that the accusations have come to light again.  And I think it’s common to accuse writers of making stuff up to gain hits, sell stuff, or even make money from something so heinous.

I can assure you that, despite my deepest wishes, I do have cancer.  Specifically, I have Stage IV Serous Carcinoma of the Ovary.  Currently, my cancer is in 4-5 spots in my abdomen– four lymph nodes and one small tumor located on my pleural cavity, sticking out of my rib.  I have done 26 chemotherapy infusions, two surgeries, and spent countless hours laying in bed so tired that I can’t even think straight.

My purpose for writing about it, sharing it, talking about is two fold (and believe me I am not being paid for any of it).  First, if I can save one person from the pain I went through it would be worth it for me.  Ovarian cancer is insidious.  I had very few symptoms, and the symptoms I did have are so subtle that they were easily explained by something else.  Secondly, it is very therapeutic for me to write about my illness.  It helps dealing with it.  Whether it be an open letter rant like this, or comedic naming my of my tumors– the one on my rib is Quatto, and the one in my rectum was Felicia.

So to the hater, I’m not going to provide overwhelming evidence that I have cancer to make you feel better.  Not going to post a picture of my pathology report, or my surgery.  I am not going to name drop my oncologist (he’s a really cool guy though, and I recommend him).  I’m not going to post my DD-214 to prove I was a veteran, or my VA award letter to prove I’m a disabled veteran.  I’m not going to post a picture of my husband to prove I’m a military spouse.  I am well aware that any you wouldn’t believe any of it any way.  I will tell you that your reports got to the right people, I was informed, and provided adequate proof of illness, and my various blog postings, Go Fund Me, and comments I made on other blog posts were not removed.

I understand your reasoning for questioning anyone who goes online and says, I have cancer.  There are sick people out there who DO fake cancer.  I actually with the help of the NY State Police, and the VA did out a faker.  She was arrested and currently facing charges for fraud.  Fakers happen.  A little piece of advice, though, once you report a faker, and appropriate action is taken and proof is provided– please do not continue to malign and harass the individual you reported.  Stalking only delegitimizes your claims of fraud.  I was contacted, and I provided enough evidence that any investigation into the matter was dropped…

That being said, for those who want to know how to spot a faker, I’ll give you a few guidelines:

  1.  If it sounds too good to be true, than it probably isn’t true.  Same goes with negative news.  If it doesn’t make sense it’s probably not true.  For example the faker I outed, said she was on oral chemotherapy for ovarian cancer.  Usually front line chemotherapy for gynecological cancers is IV carboplatin and taxol.
  2. Strangers asking for money.  I did end up needing to fundraise.  I didn’t ask for money from strangers, I posted on my Facebook.  A few of my classmates saw my fundraising effort to get on a clinical trial and it was shared on my alma mater’s website.  Most patients needing fundraising will not ask you for money unless they know you.
  3. Ask for verification.  If you have questions about whether someone has an illness, or is getting ill-gotten gains.  Ask questions.  Ask for doctors, ask for references.  Ask.  If anyone had any questions about my cancer, I would gladly have answered any questions.
  4. If you are still in doubt, report it.  But don’t let the anger consume you.  Be like Elsa, and Let It Go :)!

 

How Do You Thank Someone For Saving Your Life?

I finished chemo yesterday.  I looked back on the last six months since this entire adventure started, and the only thing I thought of is, how the hell do I think the people involved with saving my life.  Catching this cancer in the earlier stages (though I was stage iv, it was caught very early as in retrospect my symptoms were minor), and I am still here today because of the doctors, nurses, and my friends and family, who were a constant support.  I guess the best way to do it is to write an open letter to those who were involved in my treatment.

Dear Staff at Sacred Heart,

I don’t know if you realize this, but you saved my life.  You do it every day, and I wanted to acknowledge some of you individually.  There is really nothing I can do, give, or say that will express how much I appreciate and truly love you for what you did for me.  So where do I start:

I would like to thank the ER resident OB, who had absolutely no experience in a 40-year-old woman, with no symptoms dumped in your lap that night.  Who through tears told you that another radiologist you never met that I had a mass, but you couldn’t feel the mass, so you sent me up to a hospital room.

Tommy, the nurse, who appreciated my jokes about drinking that frozen concoction with tequila.  I don’t know if you like it on the rocks.  I really want to bring you a bottle, but I don’t want to get you in trouble…  You have no idea how much your humor, your honesty, and how much fun you were during this incredibly rough time.

To Dr. Parra– I am so proud of you for finishing the half marathon.  Thank-you for your solid advice and talks about autism, the Air Force, and for praying for my family.  I really, really appreciate your expertise and how much we had in common.  I’m so glad to have met you.  Thanks for taking the stint out so I can run :).

Unfortunately, I do not remember the name of the other night nurse in oncology, who finally relieved me from the pain of 12 hours of dry heaving, by giving me something to finally puke.  You held my hand while vomited and sobbed.  You broke my Seinfeld-esque vomit free streak.  You’ll be happy to know that I never vomited during chemo :).  I came close.

Onto Oncology, and Gynecological Oncology…  There are no words, no prayers, no nothing I can say to Dr Stephen DeCeasare.  I cannot thank-you, or give you credit, or scream it from the rooftop on how wonderful you have been.  You will always be the one who saved my life.  I know having served in the military, we hold those that save lives in the highest regard.  You are a hero to me, and to my family.  We will not forget your bedside manner, your kindness, and your tireless work for your patients.  Thank-you so very much.

To Becky, Dr. DeCeasare’s nurse.  Thank-you for being his support and mine, and for answering every question.  Nurses are the backbone to care, and you are truly appreciated.I really cannot thank-you enough for your helping me with my crazy schedule.

To Karla, Jeanette, and everyone else in the oncology infusion room.  You women are the heart and soul of treatment.I truly love everyone in the infusion.  Especially Karla, who I got to know in the last 16 weeks.  Thanks for being there and being a constant support.  I appreciate your advice, and followed it to the letter (most of the time).  Thank-you for reminding me to complain when I feel yucky and not to suffer in too much silence :).  Thanks for holding my hand the first infusion when I was so terrified I could barely move.

I can’t thank anyone involved in my cancer treatment enough.  You have touched me, and changed me forever.  I love you all, and will keep you in my prayers forever.  You have saved my life…  As far as I am concerned, there are not enough military medals, accolades, recognition I can give you!